Sunday, May 24, 2009

North Texas property scam?

I know I have a number of readers just across the border in North and North-East Texas. You folks might want to take note of a property scam that seems to be affecting your area in particular. TV station WFAA reports:

Hundreds of landowners in North Texas may have had their property stolen without their knowledge.

Investigators believe a massive fraud has taken place involving forged sales documents and fake buyers.

Daniel Ayala Sr. and Pedro Hererra signed over their properties for the sum of $10 on February 19, according to documents. Ayala's sons were understandably stunned to hear about it.

Daniel Ayala Sr. and Pedro Hererra have both been dead since 2003.

. . .

By the time victims find out, their land has already been sold and valuable mineral rights stripped out.

"They've sold it. They've sold the mineral rights already. That's it," said real estate agent, Hidie Maldonado after viewing official documents.

It all happened within hours to land owned by Hector Macias. "All you need is a notary and a fake signature and they can take your property," he said.

Macias has been told it could take several months and thousands of dollars to get the lawful title to his properties back.

There's more at the link. I hope none of my North Texas readers are affected by this, but I suggest you check your property's title at once, just to make sure!

The rest of us would do well to keep a weather eye open, too. If this scam is operating in one place, sure as heck it'll show up elsewhere before long.



Jerry said...

You have to wonder why it would take "several months and thousands of dollars" to rectify this. Aren't the authorities aware of this scam and able to punish the evildoers and restore property rights to the lawful owners?

Elle Wood said...

That is what is wrong today, many times it costs incredible time and cash to correct a wrong, particularly if it involves government agencies. I believe somewhere, in the hierarchy of Texas government there should be a place for people to get prompt attention and assistance without spending their hard earned money.

Cody R Salter said...

There is a service that can be offered by your county clerk's office, if your county officials opt. to do so. Counties such as Tarrent and Collin, in the Dallas Metro area have adopted a technology called PFA, Property Fraud Alert. PFA is a service that notifies the residents in each specific county of any type of document that traffics through the county clerk's office that may contain that person's name. Any deed of sale on property has to be notarized and filed at the county clerk's office; PFA, at this point, will then notify the rightfull property owner of any potential fraudulent activity. County Clerks go through thousands of documents a year and it is impossible for them to stop fraudulent activity without some type of assistance. Since property fraud is considered a 'white collar' crime, the punishment is very minimal; and thats if the perpetraitor get cause-very rare. So your best bet is to get proactive and protect yourselves. Property Fraud Alert is offered to all counties in the state of Texas. If you feel that you are at risk of property fraud, ask your county officials about PFA.